Producers of the campground sector’s first-ever virtual trade show have renamed and redirected the marketing of their planned Nov. 1-3 Internet event to reach a wider spectrum of potential suppliers and attendees, according to Art Lieberman, president and producer of Campground Expo and head of MCPS of Central Pennsylvania and MCPS for Campgrounds, the New Berlin, Pa.-based credit/debit card processors.
The virtual convention’s name has been changed from the “Virtual Campground Expo” to the “Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo” and its focus widened to include golf resorts, dude ranches, paddle boating and canoeing resorts and public parks, according to Lieberman.
Why the expanded focus?
“Well, for one thing, we didn’t want to make it a show that sort of competes with ARVC (the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds’ InSites convention),” said Lieberman. “Second of all, there are plenty of suppliers in the industry that don’t go to ARVC or state shows in the campground industry, but do go to shows that appeal to paddleboat industry people, some other venues and shows that could very well solicit to campgrounds, but just don’t.”
Recreation park trailer, cabins and yurt builders are but one example of a category of suppliers for whom show attendance costs are often prohibitive, says Lieberman, whereas attending a computerized event is much less intimidating from a cost perspective. And if they can exhibit in the process to a wider spectrum of attendees, he added, then that’s all the better. “So, we’ve decided to expand this thing to include everything,” he said.
Lieberman’s two-dimensional Internet “convention” – there are now three-dimensional formats but Lieberman’s doubts whether many exhibitors and attendees are fluent enough with computers to comfortably participate — has the appearance of a real event, with a registration area, exhibit halls, a conference center for webinars, a lounge and a press room in a virtual environment affording unlimited space. Lieberman’s also working to set up panel discussions and keynote speakers.
While “early bird special” booth prices sell for $500 prior to March 31, sponsors are selling a “four-booth island exhibit booth” after that for $600. Booth and sponsorship sales have been rather brisk, says Lieberman, especially considering that this is a first-time event. They point out that there is an enormous amount of curiosity and enthusiasm about the show, especially considering that the booth or sponsorship costs are the only expenses that sponsors and exhibitors will have to pay for participation.
Nearly 100 of the supporting businesses in the hospitality industry have now been contacted about the expo and many have, at least verbally, committed to either attending or sponsoring the event, according to Lieberman.
An experienced trade show producer, Lieberman is working with Deanne Bower, vice president of sales and marketing for MCPS, in co-producing the Virtual Expo.
Attendee registration is targeted to begin in mid-April and there will be no charge to visit the expo. Each registrant receives a distinct attendee number and reusable password for the dates of the event and for months that follow. Attendees will not be able to actually “go” to the trade show floor until the show officially opens at noon (EST) Nov. 1, although there’s a demo of a virtual expo that attendees can view prior to that.
Lieberman says that the software used to produce the virtual show is being customized by the producers, and several innovations are being added, such as the ability of attendees to be “transported” to an exhibit by merely clicking on the exhibitor’s name in the show directory and the capacity for exhibitors to view full information on an attendee’s “badge” when they enter a given booth.